Cublicles, Groupthink, and Who Really Cares?


Here is an interesting article claiming that cubicles are responsible for groupthink.

The cubicle enforces groupthink. Cubicles are meant to break down individuality, privacy, and the notion that one can be "territorial" or perhaps even be homesteading. It is a wee bit like the military in that the cubicle design seeks to displace any thoughts of "me," and instead, one look around from any seat in the cubicle cockpit reminds you that you are not you, but "we." In addition, the cubicle arena offers managers a greater sense of control. The same way that a border collie herds and controls the sheep, so does the manager round up his scrubs so they remain close enough to be reminded of who is in control.

It is an interesting post, but I'm left with the same thought I have always had on cubicles vs. offices vs. open spaces. It doesn't matter. There are more important things. I have worked in companies with cubicles that had no communication between team members and I have worked in companies where everyone had an office and communication was great. It isn't the cubicle vs. office thing that matters, it is something deeper.

  • Having worked for a business that had to decide between setting up cubicles or building office space, there is both an economic and a power side to the argument.

    Economically, it is cheaper to set up cubes. If you need to rearrange, cubes make it possible and if you go out of business you can sell the partitions.

    Power-wise, I was surprised that upper-management almost wholly believed that non managers “deserved” to be in cubicles. Their positions didn’t deserve an office.

  • I think the way you set up your office says a lot about the company you are. Cubicles to me means a strict heirarchy – managers in offices, non-managers in cubes. Whereas open office areas have the feel of equality, no one is “better” than anyone else and everyone’s ideas and work are equally important to the success of the team. Personally, I never like drawing lines between people because of their “status” within the company.

  • Anonymous

    To suggest that we can’t think for ourselves without being locked away from each other is insulting – thanks for calling B-S on this psycho-mumbo-jumbo Rob